At the beginning of 2020, we could see real progress on environmental issues. People and stores were beginning to reduce the use of plastic bags. Many of us were bringing in our own reusable bags. Restaurants were allowing customers to use their own refill cups, and we could often give the server a food container to use if ordering to go. Remember the “Skip the Straw” campaign? Many restaurants and individuals were realizing the need to reduce single-use plastics. It was a year filled with promise that we were making headway on addressing environmental problems. Environmentalists were excited and energized to begin fresh campaigns.
Then, in March, our world changed. Within weeks, plastic became more than necessary. People could no longer bring their own bags, cups, or containers when dining or shopping. Things we could just pick up with our hands at the grocery store were now individually packaged in plastic boxes. The campaign to reduce plastic bag use was put on hold indefinitely. In addition to those problems, sales of home cleaning products and hand sanitizers skyrocketed, sending more chemicals flooding into our water supply. This was in addition to the chemicals, medicines, and PPE the medical community had to use.
Most of us are pretty stressed right now, focused on protecting our own health and that of our families. Environmental issues seem relatively unimportant. However, the environment that surrounds us is an integral part of our individual and community health. Clean air and water are limited resources. Human pollution greatly affects the quality of those resources, from air and water to the insects that keep our food supply growing. Friends of Euclid Creek believes that if every person did just a few simple actions to help the environment, together we could have a significant impact.
Everyone can start at home by using the correct cleaners for the current needs. For example, it is sensible to avoid using anti-bacterial products as they have no effect on viruses and they contribute to the development of super-germs. We can reduce our use of lawn and garden fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that wash into our drinking water. We can recycle all plastic bags and ask for paper bags at the store. When eating in a restaurant, we can bring along our own take-home containers. We can continue to “skip the straw”. We can avoid single-use products such as utensils and dishes. Everyone can pick up litter here and there. Litter left on the curb is going to be washed into the storm drains that lead directly to Lake Erie.
Here on the shores of Lake Erie and in our own neighborhoods, simply being in the presence of trees and the natural world can help to heal us, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Simply spending time in our wonderful watershed parks, and our own backyards, can renew our resolve to preserve these treasures. If we value something, we will take care of it.
For nearly twenty years, Friends of Euclid Creek volunteers have been educating our neighbors in the Euclid Creek watershed on ways to protect the beauty and the health of the environment where we live. By deciding to take a few simple actions, we will be able to get back to where we were: on our way to a safe, healthy, and beautiful environment.
For more information about Friends of Euclid Creek or to sign up for our monthly email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Kelly Butauski, Friends of Euclid Creek President